Well it’s over. Time to dismantle old Blue in order to power wash all of the dirt and grit out of the inside her aluminum tubing. I gotta get my business up and running, finish that kitchen remodel, complete my half-done deck, grout the shower at the cabin, put finish on the windows that were installed last March, refinish that rocking chair, build a greenhouse – whoa better stop there before I become completely demoralized.
Here in Seattle we are lucky enough to have two thriving cyclocross series’: SCX and MFG. I raced every MFG race and did well enough to land a front row call-up in all but the kick-off race. My SCX attendance was a bit more spotty: I chose to miss a few races in order to avoid burnout. The SCX series ended this past weekend at the fairgrounds in Enumclaw.Quintessential is a cool word. It means the pure and essential essence of something. Enumclaw really was the quintessential Northwest cyclocross race, and not just because a guy named Quinn won the overall Masters 45+ Cat 4 SCX series championship. Wick and the SCX guys really laid out a beautiful course (they needed a bit of redemption after the Tall Chief debacle) including mud, grabby grass, a tape maze, a series of three off-camber chicanes, a soul crushing run-up, a little single track descent, a long, but ridable, mud bog, three slightly too high Blue Rooster barriers, some pavement for passing and a sandy ride through a horse arena. All of this was raced in fifty degree dry weather. At the end of the race I was covered in just the right amount of mud: not enough to rip off my rear derailleur, but enough to know that I’d just raced cyclocross.
Since I’ve missed three SCX races I didn’t get a call up, but I managed to squeeze into the inside lane of the third row. I must admit to liking the third row. Up front you feel a lot of pressure from the row two guys. The fellas directly behind you, literally breathing down your neck, are all serious, experienced racers and they are hungry, they want to get up there, so a bobble or a missed clip can result in losing five, six, even seven spots. Starting third row, on the other hand, reverses the roles, now I’m the hungry one pushing past all of the wobbly guys.
I had a great start and passed half a dozen riders before the first turn. On the second turn I was in a lot of traffic and really big guy leaned on me – he was on the inside of the turn, I was on the outside. It’s nice to race with good riders because good riders know that when two guys lean on each other it’s best to just keep leaning until you get out of the mess, and then separate. Fortunately the big guy was good and we went shoulder-to-shoulder through the turn. It’s fun to dodge a bullet.
The run-up at Enumclaw has a well-deserved big reputation. It’s a killer, no matter how strong you are. This is where I lost the top five guys. I just couldn’t get my butt up that hill fast enough. On the other hand many of the guys who high-stepped it up the incline were left gasping at the top, and I easily passed them once back on the bike.It was a three lap race and thanks to a super good warm-up I never really felt the heart attack sensation that usually plagues my first lap. I got stronger as the race progressed, but unfortunately so did my competition. I figured that I’d have to work hard and ride aggressive in order to finish top ten, as I was somewhere in that number eight to twelve never never land. In the end I pushed past a couple of guys and ended up ninth. I finished feeling great and totally exhilarated, it was a great day.
Next year I’m getting me one of those mint green RockLobster bikes. Damn I love those.